One of the more macabre aspects of the still-evolving scandal involving the forged letters to Congress on the climate legislation was the disavowal of all responsibility by the Hawthorn Group — the astro-turf lobbying group that has worked for nearly a decade to snooker public officials about allegedly “clean coal.”

Since 2000, Hawthorn has worked for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electrcity (ACCCE), the alliance of coal companies, coal-burning power companies and coal-hauling railroads that seeks to convince us that coal is “essential” to America’s future.

After the forgery scandal broke, Hawthorn quickly moved to blame its subcontractor, Bonner & Associates.   Noted Hawthorn CEO Michael Coe:

The Hawthorn Group deeply regrets that Bonner & Associates caused the fabricated letters to be sent to the congressional offices and its failure to follow up appropriately when they discovered the error. We maintain the highest ethical and quality control standards for our work, and nothing like this has happened in our 17 years in business.

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What Coe didn’t mention, of course, was that earlier this year Hawthorn was boasting to “Friends & Family” about how it had manipulated both politicians and the major media to extol the virtues of “clean coal” — something that doesn’t even exist!

The presidential campaign concluded with both candidates, their running mates and surrogates talking about and supporting clean coal technology… This was a 180-degree turn from earlier in the campaign.”

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So whether Hawthorn knew about the recent forgeries or not — and we hope Rep. Ed Markey’s investigation will uncover the truth — the company appears to pride itself in conducting practices that deceive officials about the public’s support for “clean coal.”